Article 8 – 2023 (September)
Australian Shooter Magazine
Question and Answers
Article 8 – 2023 (September)
Question: I need some guidance for my youngest son who has been bitten by the clay target shooting bug. He loves Sporting Clays and also Skeet. I have always been a field shooter, but have recently taken the kids on a holiday to Melbourne where he had a shot at a registered range in both disciplines and now, he wants to continue this back home. I am willing to join him up at a serious club where he can compete regularly. Is there an ideal way to practice any of the clay disciplines as they all seem so different?
Alan Kohler, Brisbane QLD
Answer: Alan the short answer is no. There isn’t a “one size fits all” way to set up a training schedule for everybody. I am assuming from the above that your boy is fairly new at this. The one thing that I would ask you to do is that he gets the basic fundamentals right. I am talking about stance, head positioning on the stock and shoulder, keeping his eyes parallel when his head is on the comb of the shotgun and of course please make sure his shotgun fits him, particularly in its stock length and height. Go and use a pattern board and make sure it shoots straight. The number of guys that have no real idea where their shotgun actually shoots amazes me.
Once you have all of these fundamentals under control then you can start to tailor a training plan. Regardless of whether it is sporting clays or skeet, start recording his practice rounds and take note of any targets that he seems to have a weakness in. If he continues to miss a “springing teal” or “high four” then try and get access to a range where he can practice these targets specifically until he can build some confidence. Once he feels he can competently hit most targets then sets some practice goals for him. Set a score in each round that he will have to work hard to achieve. It is pointless saying he needs to hit 24 or 25 when the best he has ever done is 18. Set realistic benchmarks and when he conquers them raise the bar slightly.
If you can, a great training drill is making him repeat any missed target three times in succession until he is allowed to continue the round. Drills like this can be hard to implement if you just practice shooting round after round with a squad of guys that simply want to have fun and get to the bar as soon as possible so you may have to call upon some favours from the club’s management.
Too many times I see young shooters blowing away round after round just for the sake of shooting clays. It is an expensive enough sport as it is without just going to the range to continually practice your mistakes.
You have to be a little careful setting drills and goals on every round as it is very important that your boy enjoys the sport also. I like to vary all my drills up so that they provide some pressure mixed in with fun. Shoot some stressful “miss and out” simulations with him. Sooner or later, he will be faced with this scenario in a competition to take home the prizes so it makes sense to prepare him for this reality. Give him a chance to have a round without any “hands on” coaching also as it is just as important that he learns to try new things out for himself as he won’t always have you there to fall back on.
Teaching your kids to shoot correctly is one of the great pleasures in life. I can honestly say I have had more fun watching my children battle against each other when they go to the range or on my property up on the banks of the Darling River. Neither have aspirations to compete at the Olympics, but they both have a huge competitive streak in them and I admit one of the best experiences I have had is when they both actually beat me one day. I learnt then they did not inherit my humility.
Good luck with it.